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Iraq-Saudi Arar border crossing reopens after almost 30 years

Iraq and Saudi Arabia reopened the Arar border crossing on Wednesday after almost 30 years of closure, according to state media.

Iraqi minister of Interior Othman al-Ghanimi and several members of the Iraqi-Saudi Coordinating Council attended the opening ceremony.

The opening came after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman spoke in a virtual meeting on November 10, agreeing to reopen the crossing – which connects Anbar province with Saudi Arabia – within the next week.

The crossing had been closed since 1991, after relations between the neighboring states deteriorated following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Since then, it has only opened once a year to allow Iraqi pilgrims passage for Hajj.

Iraq and Saudi have enjoyed closer ties in recent years, as Saudi Arabia looks to offset Iranian influence in the region. Rapprochement between the two began in 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened their Baghdad embassy after 25 years of closure.

Saudi Arabia announced in mid-October it would increase their investments in Iraq by 10 billion Saudi riyals ($2.7 billion USD), as reported by Saudi Press Agency.

This agreement between the two countries resulted in criticism by a number of Iraqi Shiite political parties. Qais Khazali, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, released a statement on October 30 slamming the Saudi projects, claiming that the investments in Anbar, Najaf, Muthana, and Basra will damage Iraq’s security and stability. Source